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Connolly favourite as site for €420m children's hospital

A KEY report will back Connolly Hospital in west Dublin as the best site for the new national children's hospital.

Health Minister James Reilly's document is to be delivered to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore within days.

Based on the findings of an expert group headed by Frank Dolphin, the report was compiled by Dr Reilly and his officials.

Connolly is located in the Dublin West constituency of Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.

Its bid plans for the hospital being constructed within four years for less than €420m.

The children's hospital was due to be built at the Mater Hospital in Dublin city centre until An Bord Pleanala rejected the plans earlier this year.

In the aftermath, Mr Dolphin and his team were appointed to carry out a review of dozens of locations to assess their suitability for the project.

While the group did not favour any one site, Connolly, with its 50 acres of free land, ticks many of the boxes.



Expanded

A greenfield site in Belcamp, beside Coolock -- put forward as a location for a new €1.2bn medical hub with the children's hospital at its core -- is thought to have performed well in the review.

The land was recently moved into Dr Reilly's expanded Dublin Fingal constituency.

However, it is understood Connolly remains the hot favourite.

If Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore back the recommendation, the Cabinet will give its final approval within two weeks.

The original choice of the Mater caused controversy as it is located in former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's Dublin Central constituency.

Allegations of political interference were levelled but strongly denied.

The expert group, chaired by Mr Dolphin and made up of doctors, architects and planners, assessed more than 40 bids.

The report will be published to support the site decision.

Dr Reilly said at the weekend he would bring forward the long-awaited conclusion in the next 10 days.

But controversy is sure to follow, whatever decision is made.

Already, paediatric consultants have warned against locating the children's hospital away from adult and maternity facilities, a criticism of the Connolly bid.

Meanwhile, Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, the master of the Rotunda, has voiced concern that the decision is becoming a political rather than a clinical one.

When asked if the project would be completed by the original 2016 timeframe, Dr Reilly replied that "hope springs eternal".

comurphy@herald.ie


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